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Earning my bindi

Another final essay before 'graduation'

rain 32 °C

The "Essence of the Story" is the topic of the final essay for my teacher training certificate at Rishikesh Yog Peeth. It's the first essay prompt I've been given without an explanation. At first, I wanted to write a piece of comic fiction based on experiences various of my friends here have had during their stay in Rishikesh. The fruits of this silly, but entertaining idea are the previous two entries on this blog. Today, the last day of the program, I decided that those posts only captured a small part of the essence: laughter. I wanted to write something more complete, something more personal. So here's my second attempt. This time I won't write about anyone else, although I believe that we all share the same story in the end. The plot might vary, the characters may have different names, but we ultimately find ourselves with same conclusion...

I didn't know what I would find in India. I knew that for the last 2 years, my life had been a whirlwind of priviledge, opportunity, extreme experiences, and more than anything, confusion. I was constatntly dreaming, wishing I were elsewhere than where I was, imagining that this intangible paradise would answer the questions racing through my mind and settle my incessant need for movement. India began as another one of these dreams, but there was a fundamental, glaring difference: I didn't want to go, I had just convinced myself that I did. I bought my plane ticket to Delhi on a whim the second I felt the courage. I knew subconsciously that it would be important. But I was terrified.

Due to this conflicting mental state regarding the trip, I refused to plan. I didn't pack until the day of my departure, I booked a hostel at random for my first night in Delhi, and didn't even jot down my train number or Yog Peeth's address in Rishikesh. For once, I was going on a journey without any expectation or even an image of where I'd be living for the next two months. This sort of behavoir usually invites stress, especially when you are bound for a country notorious for rampant chaos. Shockingly, my arrival at Yog Peeth was seamless. My hostel turned out to be 5 minutes from the train station. I woke up in time for a 5am departure without an alarm clock, despite being incredibly jet-lagged. I met Julia in the Haridwar terminal (she "happened" to ask me if I knew how to get to Rishikesh, not knowing we would be attending the same program) and we wandered our way to Krishna Cottage together effortlessly. Nothing was planned, and yet it couldn't have turned out more perfectly. Even after settling in my room at the yoga center, I didn't feel my usual new-place-excitement.

In fact, for the first 3 weeks I was in an overall state of denial and apathy. Sure, I went to every asana class, made some friends, paid attention in philosophy and anatomy class, etc., but I wasn't allowing myself to open up. I daydreamed through poses and meditation. I was glued to the Internet during breaks. I missed home, my friends and family, and the comforts of constant distraction.

I can't pinpoint the day this all changed. Something clicked, though, and it dawned on me that my heart had been stifled and crushed for as long as I could remember. I didn't (and still don't fully) know how to love myself. This realization set off a cascade of emotions followed by personal discovery. I opened myself up to past events I thought were 'closed' and 'handled'. I began to identify fundamental questions that had been bothering me for quite some time, those probably responsible for my constant desire for relocation and exploration. I realized that I was never looking for places, or people, or crazy experiences. I was really just looking for myself, but convinced that "I" was somewhere other than where my body was at that moment.

My subconscious knew that isolation would shed light on this reality. I wasn't totally alone (far from it) at Yog Peeth, but I was given the time and space to be with my body and mind with more focus than ever before. I think I've always been scared of what I would find if I turned inward-- so, I surrounded myself with distractions. And when a place or situation got too comfortable, I would uproot myself in search of more external stimulation.

Being here hasn't answered all my questions. If anything, I have more of them now that I've decided to live inside my own skin. But at least I feel like I am my own anchor. From here, my project, my eternal project, is to learn who I am and how I can be useful to this crazy, perfect world. I know that I have many gifts-- in fact, I think just knowing that all the answers are somewhere in my mind waiting to be uncovered is the most valuable gift of all. I also know that I have A LOT to work on. As long as I continue to be honest with myself (or at least being conscious of the fact that I'm really good at lying to myself), and resolve not to return to a life of distraction, my universe has no choice but to improve.

The essence of my story, of the story that will begin to write itself from this moment forward, is this internal honesty. I assure its future reader a plot filled with excitement, creativity, beauty, and eternal bliss. The characters will be drawn to the story because they too will share this essence. The only thing I can't promise the reader concerns the resolution: these sorts of stories are always infinite.

Posted by pack_it_in 10:09 Archived in India

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